The Cornes Family

Four family members dead, thee more at risk – “it ripped us apart”

My name is John Cornes and I am 56 years old. My family was once the biggest haemophilia family in the UK. There were seven boys, six of them with haemophilia, and one sister. Six out of seven of us were infected with killer viruses by our NHS treatment. My brother Gary contracted HIV and Hepatitis C. In 1992, he died, leaving behind a widow, Lee, and his baby son, who he adored. Eighteen months later, in 1994, Roy, who also had HIV and Hep C died too. Another eighteen months passed, and Gordon died. I remember it was around Christmas time.

In February 2000, Gary’s wife Lee died. She had contracted HIV from Gary, and was buried with him. You can imagine what this did to us, but especially to our mother, Audrey. Previously she had been a big, strong woman – a bit like the ones in the Les Dawson sketches! She used to put on a tough outer shell to encourage us boys to be strong, but when she lost three of her sons, and knew that there might be two more, the shell crumbled. She became thin and gaunt, and in 2002 she died too. I spent about five years grieving for my mum.

I don’t like funerals.


That left me, two of my brothers and my sister. I would do anything for her. She looked after all three of them before they died, and then again with our mum. No-one should have to do that. What happened next? Well, my ex-wife and I decided to legally change the surname of our two children, so that no-one would know they were part of the ‘AIDS family’.

That’s how bad the stigma was in those days. Today, I am proud of my name, but it was different then. It never goes away, and in many ways as time goes on it becomes harder. My wife and I split up, although we are still friends. My sister split from her husband. Two and a half years ago I broke up from my new partner.

After the deaths and the funerals I overworked to put it all to the back of my mind. It didn’t work, and two and a half years ago I had a breakdown as a result of depression. At the time I was on 24 tablets a day; part of a trial to treat my Hep C. My immunity broke down and I thought about suicide. I now have cirrhosis. My two remaining brothers* also have Hep C, but fortunately no cirrhosis yet.

Now, I am a workaholic, and I am scared of the time when I might not be able to work. I have an office job and a great employer; otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it. If I could ask one thing of the government, it would be to admit what they’ve done. I believe that the Thatcher government murdered my family. Contaminated blood broke us. It destroyed us. It ripped us apart. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

John Cornes

* Note: Since this was written, another brother has died as a result of contaminated blood.

Comments (3)

Update on me John Cornes, April 3rd 2019 Wednesday evening I started coughing and walked to the toilet thinking I was going to be sick when gush I vomited over a pint of pure red blood down the Loo, I went dizzy and felt as if I was going to drop on floor , I managed to get back to a chair, my daughter called 111 ambulance rushed me off to the Queen Elizabeth hospital Birmingham. On arrival I vomited more blood and thankfully the doctors and nurses dealt with me promptly. Because I received contaminated blood I developed Cirrhosis and scarring is getting more problematic. The vomiting of blood was caused through Varcies which have started to burst and bleed. On the Thursday 4th April I had six varies tied and on the 11th April another two tied. I’ve been told that in future there will be a time when I have a stent put in to elevate the blood from my Liver, this when I do have it done can cause symptoms of forgetfulness. I was in hospital for ten days and off sick from work four weeks in total. I love work and get so emotionally upset at the thought of not working. At moment my head feels screwed up , I’m trying to focus on normal things. I wonder how long I’m going to live. I wished to write this down for all to see as I am not alone with these symptoms this is from the Contaminated Blood that has taken the life from me and my family. Please note Doctors and Nurses are fantastic at QE. I’m holding my head high and trying to keep a positive attitude. Regards John Cornes.


I worked in the NHS at Bodmin Mental Hospital in 1985-8 and whilst I was there, I was told by a Doctor that there had been a cronic blood shortage across the U.K. -NHS due to the fact that the Government wanted to cut costs so had stopped buying the British made High quality Blood Bags, and instead had gone for a cheaper foreign Blood Bag , this cheaper Blood bag had ultimately failed and as a result many, many, thousands of pints of good blood had to be thrown away.
I was told that the result of this Blood bag failure was that the NHS had to purchase Blood from the USA amongst others and that this blood was often taken from down and outs in the USA who were paid a couple of dollars for going into a blood bank to give their blood – unfortunately for many this blood was contaminated with H.I.V. , I am mentioning this because the whole Blood H.I.V. scandal seems to me to be due to penny pinching Government officials and not the National Health service.
I hope this is of some help to this family who have been particularly hit by this scandal. – John

Leave a comment

No Favorites Has Been Added!